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Last week, scientific results from three unrelated but complementary projects were announced, contributing to a greater understanding of global warming and ecosystem-wide responses to warming events (such as El Nino). The first article, appearing in the September 8, 2000 issue of Science and spearheaded by Dr. John Magnuson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, documents a change in freeze and ice breakup dates for lakes and rivers across the Northern Hemisphere. The researchers found consistent evidence of later freeze and earlier breakup of ice during an 150-year span (1846-1995) at lakes and rivers across the US, Canada, Finland, Switzerland, Russia, and Japan. In continuing their research, Magnuson and colleagues plan to investigate the effects of extreme climate signals, such as El Nino, within the longer time series. A second research project, led by researchers at Cornell University and also published in the September 8 Science, links cholera outbreaks to climate cycles (such as El Nino) using a mathematical model. Third, researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (published in the September 15 issue of Geophysical Research Letters), have described how El Nino events may skew the equilibrium of phytoplankton in ocean currents, with important consequences for food webs and carbon dioxide concentrations -- which, in turn, may affect global warming. The combination of these three scientific articles and the complex interactions they discuss, form the focus of this week's In The News.
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